Creating the lanterns for Glow Wild
kew.org > Blogs > Welcome to the Wakehurst blog > Behind the scenes at Glow Wild, Wakehurst’s winter lantern trail

Behind the scenes at Glow Wild, Wakehurst’s winter lantern trail

Kari Winter, Creative Lead for this year’s event, explains what goes on behind the scenes to create Wakehurst’s magical lantern trail.
Date: 
12 November 2018
Blog team: 
Author: 
Kari Winter
Category: 

Glow Wild is now in its fifth year. Where did the idea come from?

The original idea was born when a team from Wakehurst visited Christmas at Kew. Hanging in a tree, tucked in a quiet corner, was a display of paper lanterns. They thought it was a lovely subtle idea that would translate well in our beautiful and peaceful country landscape. 


Who makes the lanterns?

The lanterns are all homemade, and are made from willow and paper. Many of them are produced by local schools - a project which is co-ordinated with Brighton based community arts charity Same Sky. 

Volunteers and staff also help make the lanterns - the work started back in the summer. It was a weird feeling making them when the sun was shining and difficult to imagine hanging them up on cold winter's evenings! 


Creating the lanterns for Glow Wild

What's the theme of Glow Wild?

Our overriding theme is connecting to nature. Our installations are inspired by different aspects such as animals, stars, plants and seeds. 

The whole trail is one installation that flows through the grounds and dotted along it are individual installations created by different artists. Jony Easterby created last year's projection onto the mansion which was a real highlight and he's preparing a new one for this year. 

And Now, an arts company which has worked with Glow Wild from the start, orchestrate the fire installations along the way. Last year they lit one of the streams that flows through Wakehurst, which was an incredible sight. This year we're also working with two other artists Martin Brokman and Dominic Parrette. 



How do you light the lanterns?

It's a huge job and takes many hands to switch the hundreds of battery powered lanterns on. 

Almost all of the staff come out to lend a hand - even the Director. It's a very cold job and involves staff on ladders and moving platforms to fix the lanterns up high in the trees. 


Creating the lanterns for Glow Wild

The event has grown massively, how are you going to cope with the extra visitors?

It's taken a tremendous amount of behind the scenes planning and logisitcs. Glow Wild has grown massively - from selling just over 4,000 tickets in the first year, to having the capacity for over 57,000 visitors throughout the 16-night event this year.  


What will you do if the weather is bad?

We've only cancelled one night in the past four years, and we're all keeping our fingers and toes crossed this doesn't happen again. 

We'll be going ahead with Glow Wild unless it's unsafe for visitors to be onsite. If the event is cancelled, we'll let people know by email and also share the news on our website and social media channels. 


What’s it like working behind the scenes on the nights of Glow Wild?

It's a massive amount of fun! There's a huge amount of work shared by many different people - Wakehurst staff, volunteers and event staff employed especially for Glow Wild.

But there's a great feeling of camaraderie and we all pull together in the freezing temperatures doing whatever is needed. A huge vat of hot soup and a bottomless box of chocolates keeps everyone smiling. 

Last few tickets remaining! Book now to experience our beautiful lantern trail. 




Garden: